Air plants (known as Tillandsias) are native to Central America, South America, the southern United States + West Indies. Too, they are one of our favorite plants here at Kestrel shop where we carry several different types. Unlike most species of plants, they can live comfortably next to other natural elements such as drift wood, rocks, or even another plant. They thrive this way as apposed to living in soil. Because they don't require soil and can virtually live in the air — they received their name, 'air plants'.
Tiny little scales cover their leaves and allow them to absorb water in different forms (rain, dew, misting, etc). Their roots however act more as an anchor rather than absorbing water. But they cannot just grow with air alone. They need proper light, water and love too!
When indoors, air plants thrive under bright yet indirect light. A short period of dazzling direct sunlight in the early mornings or late afternoon are also favored. Only keep your air plants outdoors if you live in a mild region. Direct sunlight and little water is the enemy, so be sure to keep them in a slightly protected area of your deck or yard if kept outdoors.
If there's one rule to follow it's this: Water your air plant at least once a week. Give them a bath in your sink, or in a bowl for no more than one hour. Misting is another great option; but we recommend that you be sure to fully wet them when misting daily. Not all are created equal as there are over 500 types of air plants. Some (like the silvery guy in the first image above) will tolerate less water. Pay attention to how they react, or look up the specific species for a more tailored routine.
Each plant will only flower once. Gently removing the old petals once the bloom has died is known to promote pupping. What is that, you ask? Pupping for an air plant is when she has babies. Air plants can have anywhere from 1 to 12 pups that eventually grow out to replace the mother.
Not all, but most pups grow in one around one to two months after flowering. Sometimes a sign may be that the bottom two leaves might dry out and appear to be dead — they are not. So be sure to keep yourself from pulling them off. In doing so, you might pull off a pup and that would be super sad.
Air plants are the perfect candidate for plant design — easy, interesting, and adaptable. You can create mini terrariums, green walls, or even live sculptures. Maybe it is placed in your favorite ceramic vessel, or you take a more creative and natural approach perching several on a branch to create an mini plant world. They key is to not forget that she is alive. Though easy to display, they still need proper care to thrive.